Thursday, July 25, 2013

Policy Update & Call to Action

Policy Update & Call to Action:
Inform Our State's Senators, Charitable Giving Incentives Matter to Nonprofits 
Capitol BuildingOn June 27, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) sent a  letter informing senators that the Committee will start consideration of a tax reform package with a "blank slate," meaning that it contains no deductions or credits, so Senators will have to fight to get their favored tax provisions re-inserted into the bill that is being drafted.

The Committee leaders stressed that the legislation they are drafting on a bi-partisan basis will restore only those deductions, exclusions, credits, and other tax expenditures that:
  • Help grow the economy
  • Make tax laws fairer
  • Effectively promote other policy objectives
They've asked Senators to submit recommendations for provisions that meet these standards by July 26.   
We are hearing that Senators are responding to the request for input with mixed views. Some may be submitting a list of priority tax provisions; others will likely provide a set of guiding principles for the Committee to follow; and still others apparently are refusing to send in anything out of fear that their submission will be made public.

Virtually every lobbyist and interest group is clamoring for the attention of Finance Committee leaders, members, and staff. Some efforts to get their attention include submitting a sign-on letter and sending letters making the case for tax provision that affect their operations.

NYCON has also taken steps in writing a letter to submit to the Senate Finance Committee for this "Blank Slate."

We encourage members and nonprofits statewide to
  • write your own letters to inform the Senate Finance Committee. Please feel free to use our letter as a template to model your own or weigh in as constituentsabout your work and the importance of the charitable giving incentive to your ability to solve problems in their communities
Your stories will help us make clear to federal policy makers that the charitable giving incentive is unique from other tax deductions and credits and must be preserved in tax reform
As always, thank you for your continued involvement with NYCON and for the tremendous work you are doing to make our communities strong and vibrant places to live and work. We truly appreciate your dedication and commitment. If you have any questions about this or any other public policy issue, please feel free to contact me. We look forward to working with you on these important issues.


 Doug's Signature
            Doug Sauer, CEO
            New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc.

The Charitable Giving Incentive  
Federal tax law currently encourages individuals to give to charitable organizations whose missions they support by providing an itemized deduction. Policymakers in Washington are focusing on how to reduce the federal budget deficit through spending cuts, entitlement reforms, and changes to the tax code.

The President, Senators, Representatives, bi-partisan commissions, and think tanks have all put forward plans to address these issues, and many propose changing the charitable giving incentive in one way or another. No one knows the true impact that any of these proposals will have on the ability of charitable nonprofits to raise the resources needed to provide the programs and services that fulfill their missions.

It is imperative that Congress make no changes to the charitable deduction that threatens the ability of nonprofit organizations to serve those most in need and to continue to strengthen our communities.

Proud Member of
 the National Council of Nonprofits
national council of nonprofits

Monday, July 22, 2013

News from State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli

News From State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli


For the week ending July 14, 2013 

A.G. Schneiderman & State Comptroller DiNapoli Announce Arrest of Not–For–Profit Executive in Five–Year Public Corruption Scheme

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli Tuesday announced the arrest of a nonprofit executive accused of pocketing tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds intended for public services in New York City. The joint investigation conducted by the Office of the Attorney General and the State Comptroller–s office revealed that Van R. Holmes —— the president of the Young Leaders Institute, Inc. —— stole more than $85,000 by creating dozens of false records and forged documents which he filed with State and City agencies in order to obtain public money.

DiNapoli: Binghamton Facing Fiscal Challenges, But Outlook Improving

The city of Binghamton is grappling with high rates of unemployment and poverty, but its outlook is improving as it builds up reserve funds, according to a fiscal report issued Thursday by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The report is part of a series of fiscal profiles on cities across the state.

DiNapoli: Lax Board Oversight Allowed Former Village of Old Field Treasurer to Steal Nearly $60,000

Poor oversight by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Old Field allowed its former Treasurer Andrea Brosnan to steal nearly $60,000 in village funds without detection, according to an audit released Wednesday by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The findings of the audit were shared with Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota whose office charged Brosnan with second–degree grand larceny, first–degree falsifying business records, defrauding the government and official misconduct on May 22. Criminal proceedings are pending.

DiNapoli: State Tax Receipts Down in June, but Overall State Fiscal Picture Positive

Personal Income Tax and business tax collections were down in June compared to last year, but the state’s General Fund balance ended the month higher than anticipated, in part because of a $250 million regulatory settlement, according to the June cash report released Wednesday by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

DiNapoli Finds Questionable Charges for Rochester Special Education Provider

The Norman Howard School, a Rochester–based special education provider, submitted more than $200,000 in improper charges over a three–year period, mostly for salaries that went to uncertified teachers, according to anaudit released Tuesday by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

DiNapoli Finds Budgeting Problems at East Ramapo Central School District

Poor financial practices by the East Ramapo Central School District, including inaccurate budget estimates, have left the district with operating deficits for the past two years and could jeopardize future district operations, according to an audit released Friday by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

DiNapoli: State Improperly Overpaid Oneonta Dentist $66,000

The state Department of Health improperly paid an Oneonta dentist $66,402 for 2,361 inflated or questionable Medicaid claims he submitted for unwarranted services, including “behavior management,” and dentures that were not delivered to the recipients, according to an audit released Monday by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

DiNapoli Urges President Obama To Direct Federal Agencies To Adopt “Place Of Celebration” Standard For Recognition Of Same–Sex Marriages

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli Friday released a letter to President Barack Obama calling on him, in light of the recent Supreme Court decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, to direct all federal agencies under his control to adopt a marriage “Place of Celebration” standard. This would require federal agencies and programs to recognize all valid same–sex marriages, regardless of the current residence of the same–sex spouses.

Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Municipal Audits

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli Friday announced his office completed audits of the Jefferson Fire District and the Town of Lagrange.

Also in the News


Parks & Trails New York

In this issue:

Mobile-optimized Cycling the Erie Canal interactive map goes live

Now, plan your trip by desktop or smartphone

optimized siteParks & Trails New York is pleased to introduce an optimized version of our interactive Erie Canalway Trail map, first developed in 2008, which is designed to function on both desktop PCs and smartphones.  

The map has better search functions, added attractions and points of interest, a new measuring tool, GPS, and an easier- to-operate user interface. Visit the new and improvedCanalway Trail map and start planning your adventure today!

15th anniversary Cycling the Erie Canal in the books

More than 500 riders from 36 states, ages 4 through 89, participated in Parks & Trails New York's 15th anniversary Cycling the Erie Canal bike tour July 7-14. Along the way, cyclists enjoyed some of the finest scenery, most interesting history, and unparalleled cycling in the northeastern United States.

About three-quarters of the tour is on the off-road Erie Canalway Trail.  When the gaps in the trail are closed, it will be the longest statewide trail in the country.     

Check out some pics from the tour and some of the press coverage.

Arthur V. Savage Internship 

Help support a new generation of environmental leaders

To honor the life and legacy of one of New York State's most influential environmentalists, Parks & Trails New York is proud to announce the Arthur V. Savage Internship Program.

Arthur V. Savage (1926-2012) was a distinguished lawyer-conservationist, with a particular devotion to the preservation of open spaces and public parks in New York State. During the last half of the 20thcentury, Art co-founded or led a large number of nonprofit organizations that shape environmental laws, protect natural resources, and educate the public about conservation values.

A 20-year member of the Parks & Trails New York Board of Directors, Art received our George W. Perkins Award in 2003 for his outstanding parks and conservation leadership.

The Internship Program will offer an opportunity for undergraduates, graduate students, and recent graduates with degrees in environmental studies to work in Albany with the PTNY staff to shape environmentally intelligent policies, organize grassroots constituents and provide stewardship for parks, trails, and other outdoor recreational facilities.

Please help continue Arthur's legacy by supporting a new generation of environmental leaders through the Arthur V. Savage Internship Program. Click here to donate to the Internship Program.

For more information contact Tiffany Soricelli at 518-434-1583or

tapPTNY Park Friends technical assistance program kicks off

Earlier this month, PTNY Park Program Director Laura DiBetta met with the two groups selected for the inaugural year of theNYS Park Friends Technical Assistance Program: the Friends of Philipse Manor Hall in Yonkers and Friends of Caleb Smith Preserve on Long Island.

Philipse Manor, once a home to British Loyalists
The meeting with the Friends of Philipse Manor Hall included a tour of the surrounding neighborhood in the heart of downtown Yonkers,  the recently daylighted Saw Mill River (photo) and Van der Donck Park.

Park Manager Clarence Ware provided a tour of the bucolic Caleb Smith Park Preserve, a haven for fishing enthusiasts and nature lovers, before the evening's Friends meeting.
PTNY will be working with both Friends groups on communications, fundraising planning, and board development to strengthen their organizations and ultimately their efforts in support of these two treasured places.

From shabby to chic: upgrades come to a state park near you

State Parks has been busy putting to good use the sorely needed capital funding included in the last two state budgets.
At Niagara Falls State Park, ribbon was cut on three major projects that will enhance the visitor experience, including new pedestrian walkways at Luna Island (pictured), new high-speed elevators at Cave of the Winds, and new views at Three Sisters Islands. Read more and check out this Flickr photo album.

At Ganondagan State Historic Site, $1 million in NY Works Funding will go towards the Seneca Art & Culture Center, a year-round educational and cultural destination scheduled to open in 2014. Thanks to this funding, the Center will now include some of the enhanced features in its original plans, including a geothermal well for sustainable, energy-efficient heating and cooling and roll out theater seating. 

Allegany State Park also debuted a new and improved Group 5 Camp (pictured). Despite being one of the most popular group camping areas in the system, the 90-year-old cabins at Group Camp 5 had fallen into an extreme state of disrepair. The $733,000 project enabled replacement of the deteriorated cabins, construction of a modern bathroom, renovations to the central mess hall and access improvements for people with disabilities in all areas of the camp.

Nearly 90 construction projects will begin this year to upgrade and repair more than 50 state parks and historic sites across New York. See the full list of projects.

PTNY Growing the Grassroots grants at work

Grant  triples membership for Hudson Valley conservation group

John BurroughsUntil the John Burroughs Association received a $1,400 PTNY Growing the Grassroots grant, the group used a photocopy of a typewritten sheet from the 1960s as its brochure. Development of a new brochure took root in the strategic planning process undertaken by the Hudson Valley-based group that owns and maintains the trails and nature sanctuary surrounding Slabsides, the rustic cabin of the famous literary naturalist. In the first three months the brochure was available, membership increased nearly 300%.

"The value of the membership brochure has been great.  From it we developed a new membership schedule, logo, visual image, and tagline.  This relatively small grant has had a powerful impact on both the Association and our promotion of the legacy, writing and natural world of John Burroughs," said Association treasurer Joan Burroughs.

Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail video - an engaging way to build support

A PTNY Growing the Grassroots grant is paying big dividends for the western New York trail group, Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail, Inc. (ECRT). ECRT recently produced an engaging three-minute video of moving still photos highlighting the historical sites, environmental features, points of interest, and unique character and beauty of the proposed 26-mile rail trail. ECRT will use the video during presentations to donors, local officials, businesses and community organizations as it builds support for its efforts to rail bank the corridor and eventually create a multi-use trail.

PTNY members win stays at historic park hotels  

Congratulations to the PTNY members who won an overnight hotel stay at one of three historic parks across New York State in a drawing held on July 1. Our three winners hail from Buffalo, Davenport Center and Lockport, NY.

Overnight accommodations were donated by the following hotels as an incentive during our spring membership campaign.
Thank you to everyone who signed up or renewed their membership in Parks & Trails New York. Your support is a vote of confidence in our work!  And, of course, many thanks to our hotel partners.

Become a PTNY member today and join the growing community of park and trail lovers.

Celebrate this month's Green Partner - 
Con Edison

Con EdCon Edison has been a stalwart supporter of Parks & Trails New York for nearly two decades.  As the leading supplier of energy for the New York metro area, Con Edison has invested time and money in green energy initiatives and works to provide information and incentives to its customers to undertake more green energy practices. Through its "Power of Giving" program, Con Edison supports over 1,000 nonprofit organizations to strengthen neighborhoods and sustain communities. Con Edison's environmental leadership has been lauded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy and other organizations. Thank you, Con Edison, for supporting New York's parks and trails!


Kingston becoming trail hub

Ulster County's Kingston Land Trust (KLT) is working with the city to transform Kingston into a trail hub for the Hudson Valley, with connections to the Catskills, the Walkill Valley Rail Trail (and the newly opened Rosendale Trestle), the D&H / O&W Trail, Hudson Valley Rail Trail and the Walkway Over the Hudson.

Recently, the city, KLT, and the Trolley Museum of 
New York worked together to revise a lease for a 1.5-
Volunteers clean out the Delaware Avenue tunnel
mile former rail corridor that would allow KLT to create the Kingston Point Rail Trail. To prepare for trail construction, volunteers have been hard at work clearing trash and debris from the corridor.

On July 20 KLT will host a Kingston Greenline & Ulster County Trails Summit. The goal of the conference is to exchange and evolve key trail concepts among partner organizations and stakeholders in the community. The summit will serve as a kickoff event for site visits and visioning activities throughout the summer and a culminating event in the fall. To find out more about the summit, and to RSVP, visit theevent page.

Parks & Trails New York is working with the Kingston Land Trust and the Rail Trail Committee as part of its Healthy Trails, Healthy Peopleprogram to engage the community in exploring the feasibility of connecting existing and proposed rail trails into the city.

Final and draft master plans released for several state parks

State Parks and the Palisades Interstate ParCommission have completed a Final Master Plan/Final EnvironmentalImpact Statement for Rockland Lake,Hook MountainNyack Beach and Haverstraw Beach State Parks, located in Rockland County. A "consideration period" is open to agencies and the public until July 22, 2013. Call 518-486-2909 or for more information.

State Parks also released a Draft Master Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for John Boyd Thacher and Thompson's Lake State Parks in Albany County. A public hearing will be held on Thursday, August 1 at 7:00 PM at the New Scotland Town Hall in Slingerlands. Comments may also be emailed

Protection of Palisades viewshed gets boost

PalisadesThe campaign to protect the Palisades has seen some positive developments recently.

First, four former Governors of New Jersey jointly sent a letter to the CEO of LG Electronics urging the company to reconsider the high-rise design of its proposed new corporate headquarters in Englewood Cliffs. This was followed by a letterto NJ Governor Christie from the Bronx and Manhattan Borough Presidents.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, citing concerns about the impact on Palisades views, backed out of plans to work with LG on environmental and energy issues related to its building plans. The media is also helping the cause, with the editorial boards of major area newspapers speaking out in support of protecting the Palisades and an Associated Press story getting picked up nationally.

Despite this pressure, LG Electronics is moving forward with its plans to build a 143-foot high-rise building and has pulled out of mediation talks. The Protect the Palisades coalition, of which PTNY is a member, is working to stop the intrusion on the scenic integrity of the Palisades by this development. For more information on the coalition and what you can do to help, visit the website.

Earthshare logo
Parks & Trails New York is a member of Earth Share New York, an alliance of leading nonprofit environmental organizations. For more information about workplace giving to Parks & Trails New York and Earth Share, check out

July 2013


Celebrating more than 25 years of advocacy for New York's parks and trails


Trailfinder Trail of the Month

Sodus-Wallingford trail

Sodus-Wallington Rail Trail

The historic Sodus-Wallington Rail Trail runs along an old railroad bed in Wayne County, following the Sodus Point Line which was chartered in 1852 and eventually became a through route from Lewistown to Oswego. This flat and very accessible three-mile trail in western New York is great for strollers or bikes and offers an easy way to get from Wallington to some summer fun at Lake Ontario;s Sodus Point Beach!

Check out the Sodus-Wallington Rail Trail and more of NY's multi-use trails on PTNY's TrailFinder

Parks & Trails New York in the field

PTNY project director Martin Daley visited the Delaware County town of Andes and the Sullivan County town ofFallsburg to install boxes for trail user surveys and see the results of spring trail work in both communities. The surveys will be used in conjunction with trail user counts to provide a better idea of who is using the trail, how often, and the impact the trail is having on trail users' health.  

Check out the latest issue of Canalway Trail Times

CT Times
Meet trail adopters from Fort Plain, get a behind the scenes view of Cycling the Erie Canal, and learn more about what's happening along the Canalway Trail in the latest issue ofCanalway Trail Times.

Save the date: Nov 13 - PTNY's annual reception

Parks & Trails New York's annual Award Reception will take place Wednesday, November 13, 2013, at theThe University Club in NYC.

We are pleased to bestow our George W. Perkins award to several worthy recipients:  

Citigbank, N.A. for their exemplary commitment to New York through their investment in the widely successful Citi Bike program.

Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan for her extraordinary leadership in transforming New York's streets and improving the city's physical, social and economic environment.

Four Freedoms Park Conservancy for its dedication to creating a beautiful and meaningful green space on Roosevelt Island which has recently become New York's newest state park.

We hope you'll join us!

Guides to summer cycling fun!

both covers

Looking for something exciting to do this summer? Why not cycle through New York using ourCycling the Erie Canal andCycling the Hudson Valleyguidebooks. These books, along with our on-line interactive Erie Canalway Trail map, can take you through some of New York's most beautiful and historic locations. You can find things to do, places to stay, and more when you flip through the pages of these popular guidebooks.Purchase your copies today!

Annual Canalway Trail count taking place in Albion and Brockport

This summer the annual Canalway Trail count will be conducted in the western New York communities of Albion and Brockport.  Volunteers will be tallying the number and types of trail users as well as surveying trail users to learn more about how, why, and when they visit the trail and how much they spend. If you're interested in helping with the event contact us.

I Love My Park Day volunteer wins camping gift prize

Flower planting

As the winner of a drawing of those who registered online by April 22 for I Love My Park Day, Joyce Cornell won a $100 camping gift card that will help her and her family enjoy New York State Parks.

Joyce is a music-loving mom who lives in Albany, N.Y. with her husband and five-year-old son. On I Love My Park Day on May
4, Joyce and her son helped out at Peebles Island State Park by planting flowers and painting flower boxes.

Schuylerville to Ft. Edward bicycle tour to showcase
Champlain Canalway Trail route

Get a first-hand look at the proposed route of the Champlain Canalway Trail by joining members of the Champlain Canalway Trail Working Group on a bike tour from Schuylerville to Fort Edward, Sunday, August 11. The 28-mile ride begins at Hudson Crossing Park in Schuylerville at 9:30 a.m. and is sponsored by the Working Group with help from the Albany Bicycle Coalition and funding from the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. Pre-register by August by email or by calling(518) 225-4209. The number of riders is limited to 50. A $10 donation is suggested to support the Champlain Canalway Trail project.

Double the reason to celebrate at  Old Croton Aqueduct

The Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct are planning a party onJuly 20 and you're invited. Join State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey to celebrate the Ossining Bi-centennial and completion of preservation work on the Double Arch Bridge and Aqueduct tunnel. The free event takes place on the bridge from 4:00 to 6:00 pm and will feature guided tours inside the Aqueduct tunnel.

Become a Canalway Trail adopter

Adopt a Trail

Join the growing community of Canalway Trail adopters.  Presently, 50 groups and individuals are participating in the Adopt-a-Trail program across the state. Trail adopters tackle many types of maintenance tasks such as picking up litter, mowing, trimming brush, removing fallen branches, raking and patching the trail surface, maintaining signs, painting, and landscaping. Read more about the Adopt-a-Trail Program at the Canal Corporation website and check out PTNY's maps of theWestern Canalway Trail andEastern Canalway Trail that show where trail is presently adopted and what sections can still use some help.  ContactPTNY to join the effort.

We're now on Pinterest and LinkedIn

You can now re-pin from ourPinterest boards and connect with us on LinkedIn.

Our Pinterest boards feature interesting outdoor activities this summer.   Follow us on LinkedIn to network with Parks & Trails staff, board members, and volunteers. 

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